Women and hair removal - should it go or let it grow?

Hair removal is just another thing that is expected of women by today's society.  If a female hasn't shaved her underarms or their bikini line they are branded as 'dirty' or 'unhygienic'.  Untidy eyebrows are also heavily criticised, along with unshaved leg hair.  But should women feel so much pressure to remove every last hair on their body?  Or should we feel free to let it grow, and be proud of it?

The history of hair removal is quite interesting.  It wasn't until 1915 that the first razor, specifically for women, was created by Gillette.  A decade later, a leading women's fashion magazine included an advert which featured a woman with her arms raised and her underarms bare.  This was the first of its kind, and set a precedent for the future.

Fast forward to the 1940s and Remington released the first electric razor for women.  Due to a wartime shortage of nylon, more products and recommendations for hair removal became available as women were forced to go bare-legged more frequently.  Ten years later and hair removal was finally publicly accepted.  Women now stepped up the hair removal, heavily relying on razors to shave their legs and underarms, and tweezers to pluck and groom their eyebrows.

The swinging sixties introduced the painful method of waxing to the world, and rapidly became the choice for removing unwanted hair on the legs and under the arms of women.  As the seventies took hold, and the bikini fad of the sixties looked set to stick around, the bikini line became another chore to add to the hair removal list.

Today, hair removal is part of most women's everyday routine - eyebrows, legs, underarms, bikini line...(I could go on).  And there are so many ways to rid yourself of any unwanted body hair - waxing, shaving, threading, plucking, epilating, electrolysis, creams, the list is endless!  Hair removal is one of the biggest markets, with women now removing any hair and every hair.

There was a piece on This Morning that I recently saw about beauty regimes that women conduct in secret.  Hoards of women sent comments in to the show revealing all of their hair removal secrets.  These included: shaving their toes, shaving their knuckles, plucking out whiskers, shaving below their belly button, plucking hairs from round their nipples, and many more.  As these were being read out by Jeff Brazier, who looked as uncomfortable as I felt, I wondered what the world has come to.

Yes, we all get the odd whisker now and again that doesn't grow gradually, just appears an inch long out of nowhere and is swiftly seen to with some tweezers.  But some of the other 'hair removal secrets' were baffling.  Why is there such a stigma on women to have no hair on their bodies?

If a woman doesn't want to shave her armpits any longer, and doesn't want to endure being plucked, waxed, and threaded, why should anyone else care?  There are those who leave their body hair because they're 'a feminist' and are making a stand.  But hair removal isn't about equality of the sexes - men don't make us pluck our eyebrows and wax our underarms so that they appear the stronger, hairier sex.  Sure, most men probably prefer women to be well groomed and preened, but women are the worst culprits for criticising those who choose not to remove every single hair on their body.  Imagine if Vogue put someone on the cover who had dark, thick underarm hair, unplucked eyebrows, thick leg hair, and a bushy bikini line - she would be torn to pieces by the world.

Unfortunately, I am among those who keep this massive industry going.  Shaving, veeting, plucking - I do it all (I don't have any of those crazy hair removal secrets, though).  I remember when I was little I couldn't wait to start shaving my legs and underarms, I saw it as a right of passage to growing up.  I wouldn't say that I, personally, was open to leaving my body hair to do its own thing.  But those who do want to do that shouldn't feel like they can't, or feel like they will be victimised for doing so.

I bet if Beyonce suddenly stopped preening it wouldn't take long for everyone else to follow suit.


  1. I think it can be just as much of an issue for men who feel they need to preen eye brows, chest hair, back hair and often even leg hair. Although this is considered 'manscaping' in most cases and they don't generally feel as much pressure as women to do so.

    The media has a big part to play - I think if Beyonce suddenly stopped the media would hunt her down for it before anyone followed suit. We all have to be perfect, remember? ;)

    Keep blogging! x

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